Reading Time: 4 minutes
Marketing on social media is one of the best ways to advertise products or services because ads and content can get massive exposure. There are multiple ways to market your brand without seeming too pushy, and different platforms provide access to different age ranges and demographics.
As a marketer or a business leader, you should know the differences between social media platforms. Even though they can all be beneficial for your marketing strategy, not all of them are likely to be used by members of your target audience. By knowing the differences between each platform, you will know which ones you need to prioritize when crafting campaigns for your social media marketing, saving you time, effort, and money.
This article provides an overview of the most popular social media platforms currently used and outlines what makes each of them unique, giving you a better idea of where to start when planning your social media strategy.
An Overview of Popular Social Media Platforms
Many tend to think that the audiences on different social media platforms overlap, meaning that each person has an account on multiple platforms (Instagram, Facebook, etc.), and that assumption is often correct.
With that said, there’s a big difference between having an account and being active on that particular social media channel. This is where the differences begin. Below, we will take a deeper dive into what makes each top social media platform unique and how it can best be used to engage with a particular audience.
With its 2.91 billion monthly active users, Facebook remains the biggest social media platform globally. It’s a place where people connect with their friends and family, share photos and videos, and even write long posts. With so many users, it’s hard to say that Facebook has a particular age range or audience (though it’s most popular with Millennials). In that sense, it’s ideal for marketing any kind of business.
The downside comes from the fact that becoming popular on such a massive platform is incredibly difficult. Facebook has cracked down on organic visibility in recent years, which makes it challenging to get an audience without first paying for it. However, if you’re already a business with an interactive target audience and many likes on Facebook, you can use its ad manager to promote new products and services more efficiently.
When talking about social media marketing, many people immediately associate it with Instagram. The platform that “gave birth” to the career as an influencer and which remains one of the most popular when trying to market products or services.
The majority of Instagram users are younger, with about 70% falling into the age group of 13-34. This is also the best target audience for social media advertising. The platform also has many innovative features, such as Instagram stories, reels, and live videos, making advertising feel more personal and less like someone is trying to get you to buy something.
Another benefit of using Instagram is the opportunity to increase your brand awareness, as the platform supports organic growth. Although, the algorithms are known for changing frequently. For example, the algorithm was pushing posts that got the most amount of likes for a while, but now it’s prioritizing Reels as it tries to make the format more popular. So, by following what kind of posts Instagram is currently promoting, you can use it as a way to advertise your business organically.
Unlike Facebook or Instagram, LinkedIn is not a social media platform for everyone. It’s a networking site mainly intended for users with a business profile looking to connect with other professionals or potential employers.
When it comes to using it for marketing purposes, it’s a great fit if you’re promoting your business or a product or service specifically created for a particular type of working professional. It’s also a good choice if you’re trying to make your company more popular amongst potential employees.
Another unique thing about LinkedIn is that photos or videos aren’t the most popular types of content, unlike most platforms. Instead, users enjoy longer posts or short, unique takes in a written format.
TikTok is perhaps the fastest growing social media platform of them all. For the past two years, it has been steadily gaining more and more users, and as of March 2022, it officially has over about 2 billion monthly active users.
If you have a brand that appeals to a younger audience from the ages of 14 to 25, then TikTok is the social media platform for your business. It offers you an opportunity to create fun and exciting content that is also informative and modern. Furthermore, TikTok is constantly upgrading and improving. For example, it now gives creators the ability to make videos of various lengths, and a story feature has been added, following the model created by Instagram and Snapchat.
Both men and women are active on the platform, but women take the lead, making up 60% of the users. This is a small lead compared to some other platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr, where women are the grand majority.
Overall, if you’re looking to sell products to Millenials and Gen-Z and want to market your brand as relateable, fun, modern, or exciting, then TikTok should be near the top of your list when choosing social media sites.
YouTube is the platform with the second-highest amount of monthly active users, coming in just behind Facebook. Along with that, it’s thought to be the second largest search engine, apart from Google. Thanks to YouTube, online videos became mainstream, and a few years back, vloggers were becoming celebrities, similar to how TikTok stars are now doing the same.
Since the early 2000s, the platform has undergone many changes and currently allows users to watch movies, TV, standard videos, and even a shorter video format similar to Instagram Reels and TikTok.
When it comes to advertisements, YouTube can be used to deliver moving, short film-like videos that make a lasting impression on the viewer, similar to what Nike typically does with its ads. However, for your brand to get attention from this type of marketing, you need to work with the algorithm and make sure that the video you produce is truly outstanding and unique.
Knowing which social media platforms have the closest ties with your target audience will help you create a more effective marketing strategy.
If you feel out of touch with a platform that might work well as a marketing channel for your brand, it’s always a good idea to ask your influencer partners—the true social media experts—for advice. If you don’t have an influencer partner, it’s a good idea to ask Markerly—the influencer experts—for advice!